May 20, 2008
-- by Dave Johnson
I had the honor of interviewing one of the Inter-Con/Kaiser security guards who went on strike to demand their right to form a union. I will identify him as E so there is no opportunity for Inter-Con to retaliate.
I asked what was it like to decide to join a strike?
E: It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. I got to know my coworkers more than I already did. Knowing that more than one location was going through this, that Inter-Con wasn’t screwing over one location only, but was a statewide thing, helped me. It was good to meet other officers from other locations and know that we are in this together.
I asked if E feels like the strike accomplished anything.
E: After the first strike, that was the new experience. After this second strike it felt like what do we do now, nothing is happening, but after going to the last meeting and seeing the third wave of tactics I feel like we will have a union. After the last strike it felt like, how long are we going to fight, until Kaiser and Inter-Con acknowledges our union? Now that is my feeling that we are going to win.
I asked why are you doing this? Why do you want a union?
E: We want better wages, sick pay, paid vacations. A lot of our officers have to have two jobs. There is no longevity. Any company wants employees to stay for a long time but when you get paid $10 you are in and out pretty fast. We want a union. Having a union is unifying all of us so we have that one voice, we are not standing alone.
We are striking because the company is not letting us have a union and we have a right to have a union. They are spying on us, things like that.
After the first strike I was afraid to go back to work, afraid I wouldn’t have a job. But after the second strike I walked in with my chest out.
I asked what is it like for people making $10 an hour.
E: I make more than that but a lot of them are on call, no fixed schedule. They walk parking lots. There are rovers who walk around. They get calls from the hospital site - code grey, that’s a security incident, a patient or an employee. Or code blue is someone going cardiac arrest, they call out to one of the rovers. Some codes all of the security guards have to go to that location. They’re there to do crowd control. You have some emotional patient families. Then after that whole ordeal we write reports…
There are people who do injury to themselves or others, a lot of them are alcoholics, brought in by the cops. We stand by them, hopefully they won’t lash out at us. We also do standbys at the morgue.
Me: You don’t get sick pay.
E: We call off, we lose money.
Me: So do people go to work sick?
E: I don’t. I’ve heard people go in sick.
Me: What about other people getting sick? You work in a hospital, doesn’t making people work sick endanger the patients?
E: I wouldn’t go in if I was sick. I just lose the money.
I encourage you to visit StandForSecurity.org.
I am proud to be helping SEIU spread the word about this strike.
Posted by Dave Johnson at May 20, 2008 4:22 PM
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